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Kwanten mechanics

Ryan Kwanten

Ryan Kwanten

He’s one of Australia’s biggest rising star’s and yesterday, I caught up with the hunkilicious Ryan Kwanten. The True Blood rig was in Brisbane with director Patrick Hughes ahead of the Queensland premiere of their film Red Hill at the Brisbane International Film Festival. I sat down with the lads for an exclusive chat about Red Hill, neo-westerns and `rabid’ fans. Enjoy the full transcript below.

Jane Storm: You guys are here at the Brisbane International Film Festival to introduce Red Hill, it’s playing at the Gold Coast Film Festival on Saturday and after playing at Berlin International Film Festival it got picked up so quickly, how important are these festivals for getting the film out there and noticed?
Patrick Hughes: They’re brilliant. It’s the perfect platform for film buffs and to get your film in front of film buffs. What I think it helps create is word of mouth and to spread the buzz. And obviously it’s a great way to sell your movie too (laughs).

Jane Storm: Is it a great opportunity to scout and attract other talent to your projects, as well and get them interested?
Patrick Hughes: Yeah, I think the whole thing is a really nice networking tool as well.

Patrick Hughes: To be surrounded by like minded people-
Patrick Hughes: -yeah, and other filmmakers and other actors. I know Ryan and I had a great deal of fun in playing this at festivals since February at Berlin.
Ryan Kwanten: Berlin, we went to Hawaii, Austin, Spain.
Jane Storm: Cool, so just like a holiday really?
Ryan Kwanten: (Laughs) Not really.

Jane Storm: How did you guys feel about the response you got at Berlin?
Patrick Hughes: It was incredible. Ryan and I were both sort of-
Ryan Kwanten: -I can’t say we weren’t nervous, because we were. . .
Jane Storm: Well, it’s a very prestigious festival.
Ryan Kwanten: Yeah.
Patrick Hughes: Yes, it was a really huge deal, especially for our film. Especially under the circumstances -the fact that we had an incredible cast and crew involved and no distributor. To take it to Berlin and 48 hours later, after our first screening, to have pretty much sold it and of course Sony picking it up . . .if felt like that was the wonderful sort of stamp of approval.
Ryan Kwanten: That we weren’t mad, that we weren’t the only ones that believed we had something to say. And that it wasn’t just an Aussie film, it crossed borders.
Patrick Hughes: Exactly.

Jane Storm: Ryan, this is the first Aussie project you’ve done in eight years. What was it about Red Hill (below) that made you decide this was the one you wanted to do?
Ryan Kwanten: It was the script, it was Patrick and ultimately it was knowing that I"d be coming back to Australia. It was the cherry on an already pretty tasty cake. It was never about the money, this job, it was just playing a good, solid character and this is every young boy’s dream – to wield a gun and save a city from imminent death.
Jane Storm: Now that you’ve made it in the US-
Ryan Kwanten: -I like to think of it as quite a few rungs to go.

Jane Storm: So, in the process of making that cake, how-
Ryan Kwanten: (Laughs) Nicely done. You are a writer.
Jane Storm: (Laughs) So they say . . .With no offense intended, you sort of took a gamble with Patrick, who comes from a very prestigious short film background, but this was his debut feature. You were willing to take that gamble and trust he had the goods?
Ryan Kwanten: Yeah. I don’t have an abundance of good qualities, but I like to think one that I do is the ability to pick the genuineness of people and it"s a fairly apparent Aussie trait that a lot of us have. I picked that up not only that from Patrick, but this enormous amount of angst mixed with passion. It was the angst of trying to get his film made and it took so long getting that and, like you said, he had a really prestigious commercial and short film background, and then hearing the stories of how hard it was to get to this point. Hearing him say he mortgaged his house, that sort of spoke to his . . .what’s the trait? God, help me out Patrick.

Patrick Hughes: (Laughs)
Ryan Kwanten: It spoke more than anything else.
Jane Storm: How much did it help you getting someone like Ryan onboard?
Patrick Hughes: We were in the position where I’d written the script and I’d raised the finance and the money to get film made and the next port of call was to find your lead. I really, really wanted to throw the script at Ryan. He was my first choice.

Jane Storm: You got your first choice, wow.
Patrick Hughes: Yep, and I got it incredibly quickly too. When you just have a script and you don’t have a studio behind you that can throw deals down and as a first time filmmaker it all comes down to the script. I remember my manager over there in Hollywood said `who do you want to get this in front of?’ I said `get it in front of Ryan’ and literally the next day Ryan called me and he’d read it and we really hit it off over the phone. As a first time filmmaker, like Ryan said, you have to sell your passion and I think that was something that really connected us. He was passionate about creating work and wanting to try and do something. I guess this film was an uphill battle and at that point when Ryan jumped on board I thought `wow, I’ve got a real movie now.’
Ryan Kwanten: And it really had to be a connection for us immediately because we didn’t have the time on set to talk and get all moody with it and start talking about `what’s my motivation here?’ You just go in and do it. There’s no fa├žade, there’s no bullshit, no egos, lets just get the job done. So there was no real rehearsal period. I came straight from Louisiana into Omni and straight into the first scene with Pat the first time. We went into the most emotional scene in the film. That’s how a film is done. That’s how we like to shoot.
Patrick Hughes: (Laughs) Originally it was like war film filmmaking. At the end of the day we’re here, we’ve got four weeks, lets just tell the story. It’s the kind of film that because of the scale of it, it was sort of epic in scope an scale – there’s hardly a scene where there’s not a shoot out or car chase with guns.

Jane Storm: They way it should be.
Patrick Hughes: Exactly right.
Ryan Kwanten: We made a film that we would want to go and see.
Patrick Hughes: We want to see that on the big screen. We wanted to make a cinematic experience and visceral film. It’s the kind of film that unless you can get the incredible cast on board, because of the speed we were moving at . . .you know, to get Ryan, Steve Bisley and to get Tommy Lewis. I knew that each time I called action these guys were going to nail it.

Jane Storm: Could this be the return of the Australian Western, do you think? (Above, Patrick Hughes and Ryan Kwanten)
Patrick Hughes: Well, we’ve got a long history of them, but we like to call it a neo-western. It’s an outdoor thriller and potentially Die Hard in the high country. I guess if you look at the history of the country and the foundation of America, they’re not dissimilar. I felt like knowing that region and looking at the small country town, they’re all boom towns. It’s interesting you look at the old westerns and they’re all set in these towns and what is that town a hundred years later? It’s like a relic of its former self and you have these towns that are dying. Essentially that’s what Red Hill is about.

Jane Storm: Right, so what’s it like for you to be back in Australia now?
Ryan Kwanten: With this?
Jane Storm: Yeah.
Ryan Kwanten: It’s a week. It’s somewhat of a fleeting visit but I’ll take it. It’s been Melbourne, Brisbane and then my home town of Sydney.
Jane Storm: Have you had any time for family and friend visits?
Ryan Kwanten: I tend to make time. On Saturday night I could have stayed at the hotel, but I stayed at Mum and Dad’s. I said I’ll come back and stay in the old single bed. I don’t think my room has changed at all.

Jane Storm: Take them your washing that kind of thing.
Ryan Kwanten: (Laughs) You know it. Wait, what are you trying to say?
Patrick Hughes: (Laughs) Don’t get him in trouble.
Jane Storm: (Laughs) Now you have many roles with the film, you directed, wrote, produced and edited –
Ryan Kwanten: He played the panther too by the way. You can see it in the close up.

Jane Storm: (Laughs) Good heavens. How does it feel to have it out there, you’re baby is out for public consumption?
Patrick Hughes: It’s wonderful. It’s fantastic. The film has been going incredibly since February and playing at festivals all around the world and having this incredible response. I think the biggest thing for us was, the high, was finishing it and having the world premiere at Berlin. And then selling it was then like `wow’. So certainly, you know, I got inspired by some of my favourite filmmakers who were frustrated trying to get films up in the past. I looked at all of my favourite filmmakers and realised they all had to crazy things and mortgage their houses to get their first film made.

Jane Storm: Fully, like Rodriguez.
Patrick Hughes: Yeah, Rodriguez, the Coen Brothers, George Miller, Christopher Nolan, every single one of them and I felt like I had done full circle. I mean, I shoot commercials with 10 times the budget of this film. It kind of went back to the days where I was making shorts in film school and high school. You had to take that mentality and go `right, we’re going to make a movie and shoot it on this day and you either jump onboard or you don’t.’ Fortunately for myself and for everybody involved we were lucky enough to get a terrific cast and crew.

Jane Storm: Now, from this role of Shane Cooper to Charles Manson in The Family, if feels like you are making a conscious decision to get as far away from Jason Stackhouse as possible. Is that what you’re setting out to do?
Ryan Kwanten: I’m not really setting out to do it but I want to do what interests me. Nothing could be more uninspiring than playing another character like Jason. I love playing him for the six months that I do it, but when I’m not shooting it, I don’t want to... I know I’ve got more inside of me so why go and just rest on my laurels and do something that’s easy.

Ryan Kwanten: The what?
Patrick Hughes: The internet?
Jane Storm: What is the weirdest thing that a fan lady has done?
Ryan Kwanten: Oh... what target market is this?
Jane Storm: We’re a daily newspaper.
Ryan Kwanten: Kids will be reading this?
Jane Storm: Well, yeah.
Ryan Kwanten: Ok, then I can’t say that (laughs).

Jane Storm: No, you can, I just won’t print it.
Ryan Kwanten: No, look, I have some very rabid fans who know more about me than I do and more about the characters than I do. But at the end of the day though, my mum has raised me very well and said `their the ones paying your bills Ryan so you’ve got to be respectful and time and give them, even if its just two minutes of your time.’
Jane Storm: Give them that lock of your hair...
Ryan Kwanten: I’ve got thick hair so they can take it.

VIA «Kwanten mechanics» by Jane Storm

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